Canopies

Three cheers for the red...

The Fourth of July is like the centerpiece of summer, so there’s no better time to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors. Celebrating America’s independence is also the best time to enjoy some thoroughly American activities like barbecuing, picnicking, and putting in high-quality time with your backyard and patio.

Here’s five ideas to get your Fourth of July party planning up and running, including some tips on how to throw a party without throwing your budget out of whack.

America is the land of plenty – of food.

The main attraction at any Fourth of July party – besides the fireworks, of course – is always the food. Serve traditional American fare like hamburgers and fried chicken with plenty of sides – potato salad, baked beans, potato chips, and anything else – along with plenty of dessert: ice cream, pies, cupcakes and pastries, and Jell-O.

But America’s also a land of many different places. If the classic American menu seems too broad, celebrate your state or your region: seafood for the Gulf Coast and Atlantic states, Barbecue for Texas and ┬áthe Southwest, steaks and fresh vegetables for the Midwest. (We’re painting in broad strokes, here, but you get the picture.) Make sure your family and friends know they’re welcome to bring their own family recipes, too.

If you’re looking to save money, invite your family and friends, but let them know you’re planning that great American tradition – the potluck. Set up everyone’s dishes under the canopy or tent and let everybody help themselves.

Raise a Red, White, Or Blue Beverage

Canopies

... white...

Refresh and revive the celebration by offering your guests red fruit bunch, “white” lemon-lime soda, and blue lemonade. For extra fun, use plastic ice molds to freeze different colored ice cubes, or freeze the juices and colas themselves. For the kids, remember that drink mixes also work with milk to create red, white, and blue milk drinks. And remember to get plenty of ice if you’re serving drinks outside!

Raise Your Flags – And Your Banners and Bunting

You can’t celebrate America without saluting The Stars and Stripes. Bedeck your patio, backyard, canopy or portable shelter, and even your back deck with red white and blue bunting, banners, and other decorations to set a patriotic mood. If you have an appropriately-sized flag, carefully hang it from the overhang of your patio or pergola, or from the side of your canopy. Be sure to follow all due flag etiquette when flying Old Glory, too.

For a slightly more mature ambiance, string light chains around your patio, backyard, or canopy to set a more romantic or more sophisticated mood.

See Fireworks Everywhere

Traditionally the grand finale of the Fourth of July bash, fireworks are an event all by themselves. To help spread their glittering cheer, pass out sparklers and party favors, then treat your guests to a few fireworks at the close of the evening yourself. Just remember to check local laws to make sure firecrackers are legal in your area, and to follow all safety precautions.

For the frugal patriot, keep in mind that cities and municipalities usually have fireworks shows that everyone can enjoy, so it’s not necessary to sink a lot of money into creating your own event.

Leave The Television On – And Out!

Canopies

... and blue!

Let’s face it – Americans love their television, and whether to watch the big game, the fireworks from Washington, D.C., or just a favorite program, a television is a welcome guest at any Independence Day bash. Bring the television to the patio if you can, stretching extra connecting wire or letting the antenna do the reception work for the duration. Just make sure to keep the set covered in case of unwelcome weather. If you take it into the backyard, cover it with a canopy or tarp.

A stereo system playing classic American music – old-time rock and roll, smooth jazz, or musical showtunes – also makes a great alternative. Happy Fourth of July!